Information technology (IT) infrastructure services giant Kyndryl and Microsoft today are announcing a partnership that will enable IBM mainframe users to take advantage of applications and data available in the Microsoft Azure and Power Platform by connecting host computers to the cloud.
Spun off from IBM in 2021, Kyndryl has a massive presence in the IBM mainframe world. The company has thousands of mainframe customers, 8,000 of its 90,000-plus employees work on mainframes, and analysts estimate it has 6.2 million “MIPS” (million instructions per second) of processing capacity supporting those mainframe customers.
The value of unlocking mainframes — which run vast systems of record in many industries including financial services, retail, government, consumer packaged goods, and more — by allowing their data to flow to cloud applications should not be understated.
“A secure, fast, and cost-effective connection between mainframe data and Microsoft’s cloud allows firms to exploit their vast troves of data using cutting-edge cloud tools.”Wayne Sadin, Acceleration Economy analyst and multi-time CIO
“For 60 years, mainframes have provided the technology foundation — systems of record — for most global firms. This isn’t changing soon, despite the rise of hyperscale cloud for building systems of engagement and systems of insight,” says Acceleration Economy analyst Wayne Sadin, whose credentials include multiple stints as a CIO.
“A secure, fast, and cost-effective connection between mainframe data and Microsoft’s cloud allows firms to exploit their vast troves of data using cutting-edge cloud tools,” Sadin adds.
The partnership also addresses customers’ increasing emphasis on hybrid cloud environments, whereby applications and data live in a mix of cloud and on-prem systems.
While Kyndryl didn’t commit to deliver similar mainframe-to-cloud integration with AWS or Google Cloud – the other two members of the traditional hyperscaler club — it seems highly likely those offerings will materialize. Kyndryl already counts AWS, Google Cloud, and Oracle (newly minted as the fourth hyperscaler) as partners. All four hyperscalers are in the top 5 of the Cloud Wars Top 10, while Microsoft is number 1.
Fast connections accelerate business.
Kyndryl and Microsoft are working together to create “data pipes” — effectively custom connectors developed to link customers’ mainframe applications and data structure — from the IBM zCloud to Microsoft Azure. That will enable customers to utilize the rich ecosystem of cloud apps available in Azure versus the more limited applications — and current development talent — in the proprietary mainframe environment.
For example, customers will be able to run machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), analytics, and reporting apps against their mainframe data once it becomes available via the cloud and will also be able to utilize low-code/no-code applications with the Microsoft Power Platform.
Mainframe customers “will be able to connect into other applications running on cloud, similar to how they would if they built a cloud-native app. This will further accelerate digital transformation without a big disruptive move.”Petra Goude, global practice leader, Core Enterprise and zCloud at Kyndryl
In addition, customers will be able to combine mainframe data with other cloud-based data sets to gain deeper insights into their business.
By way of example, a retail customer could combine data from its mainframe-based order processing application with customer history data stored in cloud applications, said Petra Goude, global practice leader, Core Enterprise and zCloud at Kyndryl. This type of use case could potentially provide a more complete view of customer activity, order values, dates, and more. That data, in turn, could be used to develop personalized offers, new services, or other means of engaging customers and driving revenue.
“They’ll be able to connect into other applications running on cloud, similar to how they would if they built a cloud-native app,” Goude said. “This will further accelerate digital transformation without a big disruptive move.”
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As part of this mainframe- and data-modernization initiative, Kyndryl will launch consulting and integration services developed to help customers more easily and efficiently plan, design, and connect mainframe data to Azure Cloud and edge computing environments.
While customer engagements are not expected to require long-term development cycles, initiatives will start with workshops to document the current state, use cases, data models, and other information needed to build the data pipes for each customer, Goude said. Then a standard methodology that is typical of Kyndryl customer engagements will be applied.
“For many customers, the right point is to keep their data on the mainframe and make it more efficient, Goude said.
That means making it as flexible and available as possible, so they can act on it at Acceleration Economy speed.
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